Connecticut health officials issue back-to-school COVID safety guidance — not mandates
With school starting in a few weeks, the state has issued its official back-to-school COVID-19 safety guidance focused on testing and vaccination.
Connecticut has ordered 5 million self-test kits for schools and early childhood education centers, and it has plans to order more for youth camps and other child care centers.
The Department of Public Health’s guidance advises that any student exhibiting mild flu-like symptoms take a COVID test at school or at home every day until their symptoms stop. It also urges students with a fever, or who live with someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19, to stay home regardless of test results and refer to the CDC’s Quarantine & Isolation Calculator for more information on how long to self-isolate.
The guidance also recommends that students with symptoms mask at school. But health officials emphasize that this is guidance, not a mandate.
“It’s a set of tools,” said Dr. Manisha Juthani, the state’s public health commissioner.
“[We’re] taking advantage of all the tools that we have in our toolbox to be able to keep children in the classroom, learning where they learn best," she said. "Given that we have all the tools at our disposal now — vaccines, testing, treatments — schools are well-equipped to work with their local health districts, and with us at DPH, to be able to make these decisions.”
The state is also setting up mobile vaccine clinics, called “yellow vans,” in every school district, which will be open to teachers, students and students’ families. Health officials encourage parents to vaccinate their children who are over 6 months old, the youngest group now approved for the shots.
‘I think as we enter this school year, it’s not with the same level of anxiousness. Are we aware and still concerned about some of our indoor air-quality issues? Absolutely. Are we anxious a little bit about school staffing? Absolutely,” said Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association.
“But do we have the same sort of panic about COVID? I don’t think so,” she said. “I think we’re concerned, but we’re mindful. And I think that’s the appropriate way to be attacking this disease at this point in time.”